I have written some time back that ride-hailing is one of the best things that happened to the silver community – it not only offers an opportunity to ditch your car, but also an easy way to become more independent. Once you get used to the various apps in your smartphone, there are a few things you need to know about ride hailing and how to get the cheapest ride in town at the right time! Here are some tips:
- Since UBER exited the Singapore market and merged with GRAB, Singaporeans were rightfully worried that a virtual monopoly by one company can be a bad thing for the consumer. That was the case until GOJEK and COMFORT got into the game. From your smartphone, you can now instantly check pricing for your ride and pick the lowest priced. You will be surprised that pricing for the same ride at the same time can vary widely between the companies. As a rule, I often use the COMFORT app to baseline the taxi price so I know what what to compare against.
- “Surge Pricing” or “Dynamic Pricing” simply means that the price of your ride is not fixed. The computer matches demand and supply looking at different parts of Singapore. In a particular region where the demand exceeds supply, the computer may increase the price of the ride. But surge pricing often goes away when the demand and supply are back to normal. Since surge pricing works differently in each of the competitors, the price of your ride can be wildly different. During peak hours or when it rains, you must ALWAYS compare prices before you book because prices can rise significantly. If you are not in a hurry, the best way to save if to stay away from peak hours, if you can. Also if you see a very high price, wait a few minutes and the price can drop drastically – so do not accept the first price offered if it is high (I have noticed this at the airport!)
- The apps uses vouchers to rewards loyalty or special promotions — these digital vouchers are often “awarded” in your app but you need to “apply” them specifically to your ride to get the discount. They are often targeted so not everyone gets the same vouchers and they may not be shared. Since most of the vouchers are time limited, you should always discount the price when you compare prices – then you get the “real” price of the ride. This is a pricing game and the companies bet that you are not paying attention. If you use ride hailing a lot, it may also pay to learn about their loyalty rewards especially for GRAB that has other services such as food delivery where you can earn loyalty points.
- If you need to get to the airport during peak hours and are afraid that you may not be able to get a ride with “instant booking”, you can make a “forward booking”. However, you may not be able to save much. Using GRAB, the app only give you an estimate of the fare – with a very big range – so you may still end up paying a lot more at the point of pickup. A better way may be to book COMFORT’s regular taxi service and be subjected to their normal booking charges plus the metered fare. Forward booking may not save you money, but at least you are more assured of a ride!
- If you travel overseas, do check if GRAB is available. If yes, your existing app will normally work at your destination. If you have activated your credit card or GRAB wallet as your preferred payment, then you are good to go. However, you should note that using GRAB overseas may not always save you money compared to the local taxis. As a rule of thumb, I suggest you learn more about ride hailing at your holiday destination on sites like Tripadvisor.com. In places like Bali, ride hailing can be blocked from picking you up in different parts of the city (even though ride hailing apps are prefectly legal).
As with any new innovation, there is the good and the bad. Ride hailing is an awesome innovation for seniors because it is easy to use — and adds a whole new dimension to making them more mobile and independent.